Wellcome Trust Discovery Award to Kavli PI Professor Achillefs Kapanidis

A photo of Achillefs Kapanidis and his group celebrating the award.


Achillefs Kapanidis, Kavli Institute for Nanoscience Discovery PI and Professor of Biological Physics, has been awarded a prestigious Wellcome Trust Discovery Award to advance our understanding of bacterial transcription. Revealing the complex mechanisms behind this critically important process is vital to understanding the lifestyle of bacteria and could pave the way to improved therapeutic interventions. 


In order to survive and remain competitive within a host’s body, bacteria use intricate strategies to rapidly adapt to diverse, even hostile, conditions. These strategies are centred around transcriptional control of related genes, some of which promote virulence and resistance to antibiotics. However, despite technological advances in biophysical studies of transcription, we are a long way from understanding how this process works within a bacterial cell. 


The Wellcome Trust Discovery Award scheme is designed to facilitate bold and creative research ideas and deliver significant shifts in understanding that could improve human life, health and wellbeing. With this funding, Professor Kapanidis and his team will develop and use pioneering single-molecule methodologies and high-resolution multiplexed imaging to track how the transcription machines function and cooperate within the notoriously complex environment of the bacterial cell, which has yet to be successfully reconstructed in the lab. According to Professor Kapanidis: “Our work will revolutionise the understanding of bacterial transcription while enabling applications in biotechnology, therapeutics and synthetic biology.”


Earlier this year, Professor Kapanidis was part of the collaborative team who developed a cutting-edge diagnostic test that can identify respiratory viruses within five minutes from just one nasal or throat swab. We look forward to the pioneering discoveries into transcription mechanisms Professor Kapanidis and his team will make with this new WellcomeTrust award.


More information about Professor Kapanidis’s project ‘Mechanisms of complex transcriptional processes and assemblies in bacteria’ can be found on the Wellcome Trust website.


Since April 2021, Oxford University's KAVLI Institute for Nanoscience Discovery is proudly serving as a hub for research groups from seven different departments spanning both the medical and physical sciences, including Professor Achillefs Kapanidis's group from the Department of Physics.